The presidential election goes to the second round
In the first round of the presidential election, Social Democratic former
prime minister Zoran Milanović gets close to 30 percent of the vote,
conservative incumbent President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović close to 27 percent
and independent right-wing candidate Miroslav Skoro just over 24 percent. Eight
candidates get between 0.2 and 5.9 percent. The result means that there will be
a second round of elections in January, between Milanović and Grabar Kitarović.
The president led by a good margin in opinion polls to begin with, but lost
ground after several criticized statements. In addition, singer Miroslav Skoro
attracted many right-wing nationalist HDZ supporters who think the party has
become too moderate.
Overview of the capital city of Croatia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Boycott of the Nobel Prize
Croatia boycott the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, protesting that the
2019 Literature Prize was awarded to Austrian author Peter Handke. Protests have
come from many directions against the Swedish Academy's decision in October to
award the prize to Handke, who is known for his support for the Serbs during the
1990s war in the Balkans and his admiration for the Serbian leader Slobodan
Milosević. The awards ceremony is also boycotted by Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo,
Northern Macedonia and Turkey.
Presidential elections announced in December
The government announces that presidential elections will be held on December
22, with a possible second round of elections on January 5, 2020. Conservative
President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović is running for re-election, while former
Socialist Prime Minister Zoran Milanović is considered her most difficult
challenger. Milanović strongly criticizes the election over the Christmas
holidays and accuses the HDZ party of wanting to keep voter participation down
and in effect "kill" the electoral movement ahead of a second round of elections
in January. The Catholic majority celebrates Christmas on December 25, while the
Orthodox celebrate January 7.
Clear sign for Schengen
The EU Commission states that Croatia now meets the requirements for
accession to the Schengen area, within which the citizens of the Member States
can move freely. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker commends Croatia
for adaptation in areas such as data protection, police, judicial cooperation
and visa management. Croatia's accession to Schengen must now be approved by
other EU countries. The Schengen area is covered by 22 EU states as well as
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Renovation in the government
Six Ministers New Ministers proposed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković are
approved by Parliament. Among them is the new Foreign Minister Gordan
Grlić-Radman, who succeeds Marija Pejčinović Burić, who has been appointed new
Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. Of the other five ministers now
replaced, two have already resigned, following disclosures about private shady
real estate deals. Rumors of suspected real estate deals have surrounded another
couple of the ministers who are now going. The government's redevelopment is
seen as an attempt to create greater stability when one year remains for the
next election, and ahead of Croatia's EU presidency in the first half of 2020.
The unions require a referendum on retirement age
Trade unions submit 740,000 signatures in support of the request for a
referendum on retirement age. The government plans to raise the retirement age
from 65 to 67 from 2033, citing that the current system is not sustainable as
the population ages. But the unions are protesting and have now collected more
than twice the number of signatures needed to hold a referendum.
New trial against suspected war criminal
A new trial is initiated against former General Branimir Glavaš, who is
suspected of war crimes against civilian Serbs during the 1991-95 war (see
May 2009 and January 2015). After various
legal trips he is brought to trial together with five subordinates in the
Croatian army. All of them plead not guilty to the charges. Glavaš was one of
the founders of the HDZ ruling party, later founded the breakaway party HDSSB
and is now its only MP.
New parties win ground in EU elections
Several new entrants are mandated in the European Parliament elections.
Largest will be the ruling right-wing party HDZ, which receives 23 percent of
the vote and four seats, which represents a setback compared to the 2014
European elections. to twelve places. An alliance of liberal parties, the
Amsterdam Coalition, gets a seat like the populist party Živi zid and Croatian
sovereignists, which is an alliance of far-right parties. One seat also goes to
an independent candidate: Judge Mislav Kolakušić, who is a judge of the Zagreb
Protest march against abortion
Around 5,000 abortion opponents demonstrate in Zagreb. Several thousand
trains at the same time also in Split and Zadar. Pressures from religious groups
who oppose abortion law mean that more and more doctors refuse to carry out
abortions. This applies, among other things, to about 60 percent of
gynecologists at state hospitals, according to a recent survey.
Prison for ex-prime minister
The Supreme Court tightens the penalties for former Prime Minister Ivo
Sanader from 4.5 to 6 years in prison, for having received € 2 million in bribes
during his time as Prime Minister 2003-2009 (see April 2017).
In another case, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison (see October
2018), but according to Croatian law, he did not have to serve the
sentence as long as they signed five years and had been appealed. Now Sanader is
being taken to prison. He continues to claim that he is innocent and subject to
Protest against censorship
Several hundred journalists protest in Zagreb against increasing persecution
and harassment of media representatives in the country. The protest is organized
by the journalist association HND, which states that more than 1,100 lawsuit
applications have been directed at journalists and media organizations. In
addition, journalists are exposed to political pressure and threats. It is
mainly politicians and other public figures who sue media representatives for
such things as "mental anguish" or "shameful reputation". For nearly two weeks,
more than 40 citizen groups, with the support of some opposition parties,
boycotted the public service TV company HRT, since the company itself sued other
media, journalists and even the journalist association HND. The broadcasting
company HRT is accused by critics of acting as the government's spokesman and
not a genuine public service company.
Ex-police chief convicted of theft
A former chief of the police department for organized crime, Željko Dolački,
is sentenced to six years in prison for stealing gold and cash from the Zagreb
police headquarters. In 2015 and 2016, Dolački brought over two kilos of gold
and nearly EUR 380,000 in cash, according to the court. Neither the gold nor the
money has been found. Dolački is also ordered to repay EUR 445,000. The Chief of
Police and three other senior police officers resigned when the crime was
discovered in 2016.